The writing is on the wall and it speaks out clearly that India is fast moving closer to becoming a military ally of the United States, whether it means distancing from Russia or not but certainly angering China. On Tuesday, both India and US signed a logistics pact that facilitates mutual defense berthing, taking Delhi just an inch away from becoming an official or obvious military ally of the US and the next step would be to offer military bases whenever the time demands.
The hurriedly signed agreement is on case-by-case, asserted India but the LEMOA (Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement) is "just a very substantial enabler of two countries to work together", according to the Pentagon but India’s Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar tried to assuage fears that it would amount to providing military bases to America.
"Let me get the logistics (of LEMOA) into public domain, then we will think about (the other cho8ices)" he added.
What it Means?
The LEMOA Pact, essentially a defense agreement, paves the way for operational logistics, providing for mutual use of supplies, spare parts, services and refueling on each other’s military bases or navy carriers.
In case of a need to deploy military personnel into the Indo-Pacific region, the US can now depend on Indian facilities instead of building new re-fuelling platforms in the Indian Ocean. The lesson that US had learnt from its engagement in Afghanistan and Iraq, where it had to build everything from scratch, would not be needed now, thanks to Indian gesture.
It also counters Chinese plan to have artificial islands or air bases in the South China Sea. With the military radars focusing on the South China Sea involving almost all Asian players, US cannot ignore strategic outreach factor and the LEMOA is one such step to challenge Beijing’s design in the future.
When US defense architect Carter said, he had spent more time with Parrikar than with any other defense counterpart in the world, it is not without reason.